The Role Of Maze In Jorge Luis Borges’ Novels

Speaking of Jorge Luis Borges's short stories, the “maze” can be said to be the best symbol of his novels. In his various works, there are many tangible, intangible, abstract, and image maze. These mazes are also the most charming of Borges’s novels. However, Borges’s artistic charm is far more than the tortuous and maze of the physical maze he created for us with superb intelligence, but also the maze-like narrative style he created. The main body of “The Garden of Forking Paths” is Yu Tsun's confession before his death. It is the formation of a memorable event and a narrative after time. The beginning of the novel mentions Liddell's “A History of the World War”, and the background of the story is set in Europe in the First World War, which inevitably brings us into the field of war novel. The confession tells that Yu Tsun killed a sinologist named Stephen Albert to complete the task and got a shocking secret from the sinologist and eventually died with guilt. This introduces us to the perspective of popular detective novels. In the structural form of the explicit detective novel, the plot of the novel resembles a chessboard layer by layer. Every move that promotes the plot encounters a resistance. “The Garden of Forking Paths” is a first-person detective story about a maze, revealing the theme of infinite time and infinite fantasy through the garden of forking paths, full of magic and mystery. The article discusses time, maze, universe and other mysterious topics, reflecting the author's understanding of existentialism and attitude towards life. Borges also creates a unique maze narrative style by using the concise form of short stories. The concept of time and space is the key to interpret his maze narrative. The transformation from a linear narrative to a spatial narrative breaks the spatial limitation in traditional novel creation.

Borges uses the narrative method of the circular time of death. The novel runs through a series of deaths from beginning to end. A large part of the construction of the double maze is based on the cycle of death. The first person is “Runeberg had been arrested or murdered”. He was killed by the captain because of his spy identity exposure. Yu Tsun began his escape journey and the plot behind it. The second person to die is Yu Tsun’s ancestor Ts’ui pên, who spent thirteen years on two jobs of a different nature: “He was Governor of Yunnan and gave up temporal power to write a novel with more characters than there are in the Hung Lou Mêng, and to create maze in which all men would lose themselves”. After the death of Ts’ui pên, his novel lost its integrity and became disorganized, and his maze was never known. This laid a foreshadowing for the novel. Later, Albert had the opportunity to explain to Yu Tsun the maze built by Ts’ui pên. After Albert explained the mystery of the maze, “Albert fell without a murmur, at once”; he was killed by Yu Tsun to convey his message. This is the third person killed in the novel. Albert's death helps Yu Tsun to save his army and links the historical reality of the novel to the delay of the British against the German line. At the same time, Albert’s death directly led to the death of Yu Tsun, “I have been condemn yo hang”; the fourth death in the novel. Yu Tsun’s “sacrifice” made it possible for his utterly autographed confession in prison to explain the most credible reason for the delay in the British offensive and to serve as the main thread of the novel. These four deaths are intertwined to form the integrity of the novel. The cycle of death assumes the role that can conceive the occurrence of the next story and thus realize the 'maze' of the novel. The reason for adopting such a way of writing is to characterize time, or to put it in the novel, to set up a riddle for the important mystery of 'time'.

On the face of it, the novel deals with the recurring theme of 'time' in the text. In fact, a lot of discussion on this topic reflects Borges’s view of life. Unlike many philosophers, Borges believed in the intersection of time. He thought that there is no oneness of absoluteness in time, but there is “an infinite series of times, in a dizzily growing, ever-spreading network of diverging, converging and parallel times. This web of time — the strands of which approach one another, bifurcate, intersect or ignore each other through the centuries — embraces every possibility”. Therefore, it can be seen that the bifurcated paths in the text not only refer to the staggered time but also refer to the different choices in life, as well as the various situations that may be faced. As Albert tells Yu Tsun “ We do not exist in most of them. In some you exist and not I, while in others I do, and you do not, and in yet others both of us exist. In this one, in which chance has favored me, you have come to my gate. In another, you, crossing the garden, have found me dead. In yet another, I say these very same words, but am an error, a phantom”. In a courtyard with Oriental colors, the protagonist 'I' has a mysterious and wonderful dialogue with the Sinologist Albert. Borges takes the reader into his maze with his usual combination of fact and fiction. Ts’ui pên’s novel is a maze, “Time is forever diving itself toward innumerable futures and in one of them I am your enemy” is the 'riddle'. Time is infinite, and man's imagination is therefore infinite, and the infinity of the imagination can constitute an infinite labyrinth, and writing is the way to infinity and eternity. Ts’ui pên’s imaginary book will never be finished. His book creates many futures, many times, and those times are diffused, bifurcated, infinitely rich in layers, with countless intersections. One kind of metaphor contains another; one cause leads to countless results, and that result will become another cause. This shows that when entering different time tracks, the relationship between people may change accordingly. For example, Yu Tsun and Albert were originally strangers; when Yu Tsun visited the door, he found that Albert had a deep relationship with himself; in the end, however, Yu Tsun shot and killed Albert.

Many plots and themes in the article are designed to reflect the existentialist point of view. For example, Yu Tsun and Albert did not know each other at the beginning, but Yu Tsun chose Albert as his victim; the encounter between the two was accidental, but a tragic fate was inevitable. Existentialism holds that man lives in a meaningless universe. Human existence itself is meaningless, but people can choose their path based on existence. But because everyone has the freedom to 'choose', and everyone's freedom may affect the freedom of others, the biggest problem in one's life is the choice of others. At the end of the article, although Yu Tsun completed his task, he felt “infinite penitence and sickness of the heart”. Yu Tsun was a fugitive and a murderer, a military spy who fears death and cruelly creates death; he was a tragic character trapped in the labyrinth of life impermanence. He felt this way because he killed an innocent person to protect German security. And Germany was precisely a country he didn’t care about, and this task was only done because Yu Tsun “wished to prove to him that a yellow man could save his armies”. It can be seen that Yu Tsun’s choice was restricted by others, and it was also ridiculous and accidental. For this reason, not only did he sacrifice Albert's life, but he also lost his life. Albert was shot by Yu Tsun, and Yu Tsun has been evading Madden's pursuit, but ultimately failed to escape the fate of hanging. And he chose to assassinate Albert and completed the task, it seems that he just made his 'choice' before death, and plays a game with the death, and 'filled' his life experience before the darkness came. The closer the death is, the more exciting the game will be. Man with his fearless spirit also used his body to show the mystery of life. It can be seen that this plot shows that although a person has freedom of choice, the future life he faces is chaotic and has no purpose. He just walked blindly into the future, only knowing that the real end of life is death. Each choice of the protagonist has an ending, this choice is irreversible, once you choose it, you can't go back, it doesn't matter the best and the worst.

Whether it is a maze or a bifurcated garden, it is a symbol of the novel concept of time proposed by the novel. Usually, we think of time as a one-dimensional straight line, which goes straight or goes forward. Its scale is gradually increasing seconds, minutes, hours, and days, months, and years. In the novel or the manuscript of Ts’ui pên’s novel, time is completely expressed in another form. It is no longer the same, uniform, one-way straight line, but is as vast and unbounded as the water of a large river. Repeated cycles, never-ending. In an infinite series of times, there are countless possibilities. The same is true of a person's life. Although the years are limited, there are many possibilities in each joint of life. Although we can experience only one of them, this does not mean fate. At the same time, this is equivalent to exploring the diversity of space, because time and space are both ways of existence, and the two cannot be separated. Although Albert and Yu Tsun have seen the mystery of time to each other, they cannot control time and control time. As soon as the time came, death came. Captain Madden had rushed towards Yu Tsun from the garden path. Yu Tsun took the opportunity to raise his gun to kill Albert, then was arrested and executed. The end of the novel is back to detective fiction. In the process of reading the novel, we can still feel that the past and the present, life and death, imagination and reality have completed a wonderful confluence in the circulation of time, and then, with the continuous flow of time, they run towards each other. Far away. Here, the strength of thought has hidden its sharp edge, the understanding of time and the sentimentality of life are integrated into one, highlighting the image of the garden. 

16 December 2021
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